New Delhi: The last time India played at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune, the ICC labelled the pitch ‘poor’, as the first match of the three-Test series between India and Australia had ended in the post-tea session on the third day. Spin wizard Shane Warne had famously referred to the surface as an ‘eighth day wicket’ on the first day of the match itself. But chief curator Pandurang Salgaoncar is confident of avoiding similar fate this time as India play New Zealand in the second ODI on Wednesday.
Even though the steps taken to prepare a pitch for a limited overs match is very different for the care that needs to be taken for a Test match wicket, Salgaoncar was confident that all the necessary steps had been taken to ensure a ‘sporting track’ for the match.
Speaking to CricketNext, Salgaonkar said he is certain that the pitch will play well and there will be no reason to complain about playing conditions. “It will be a good cricket pitch and we will have a good match. I am not allowed to speak to the media and this is all I can say at this point in time,” he said.
Asked if he is confident of avoiding the fiasco that saw the ICC terming the Pune pitch poor, the chief curator said: “I am telling you this wicket will play well and we will see quality action.”
ICC match referee Chris Broad had given a “poor” rating to the pitch that was used in the first Test between India and Australia in Pune. The report had been forwarded to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
“Broad, in accordance with Clause 3 of the ICC Pitch and Outfield Monitoring Process, submitted his report to the ICC in which he expressed concern over the quality of the pitch,” read the statement from ICC.
The BCCI’s response was reviewed by ICC’s General Manager (Cricket), Geoff Allardice, and Ranjan Madugalle from the elite panel of ICC match referees.
According to the ICC’s pitch and outfield monitoring process, a pitch is said to be poor if any of the following apply: The pitch offers excessive seam movement at any stage of the match; The pitch displays excessive unevenness of bounce for any bowler at any stage of the match; The pitch offers excessive assistance to spin bowlers, especially early in the match; The pitch displays little or no seam movement or turn at any stage in the match together with no significant bounce or carry, thereby depriving the bowlers of a fair contest between bat and ball.
Interestingly, Salgaoncar had told CricketNext after the Test in February this year that he had time and again warned the BCCI pitch committee head Daljit Singh and then West Zone head Dhiraj Parsana — both present to oversee preparation of the wicket in Pune — against preparing a bald and dry pitch.
“I had clearly warned the BCCI against preparing a bald and dry pitch. I don’t want to take names, but I had told them that not watering the pitch and removing the grass cover could have a detrimental effect. I know deep within that I had tried my best to make them understand,” he had revealed.
Asked why he didn’t put his foot down as he is in-charge of preparing the wicket at the MCA Stadium, Salgaoncar said: “Well, what can I do? The fact is that we are reduced to helpers ahead of an international match and we have to follow the instruction of the BCCI pitch committee members present to oversee the preparation. My job was to follow their instruction and I did that.”
Virat Kohli’s men take the field against Kane Wialliamson’s Black Caps in the all important second match of the series, looking to bounce back after losing the first match of the series.
India XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni(w), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal
New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham(w), Henry Nicholls, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Trent Boult